The settlement of Caspian began at the turn of the century and continued to grow. However, Gaastra was the larger community, so that is where Fr. James Lenhardt, pastor of St. Agnes, built a church to improve the spiritual needs of the area. Masses in those early days were held in Caspian at the Duke of Abruzzi Hall and the Calliari Opera House.
There was a succession of priests and assistants until Father Herman Fadale arrived in 1950 in Gaastra. He was appointed Pastor of St. Cecilia with Gaastra as a Mission. In his appointment from Bishop Noa, it was stated that his main task would be the building of a church and rectory. Work began on June 9, 1951, and was completed on Palm Sunday, April 3, 1955. Bishop Noa blessed and dedicated the church on July 17, 1955.
In 1981, Father Otto Sartorelli assumed his pastoral duties. His return to the Parish was exciting as he is a native son.
n 1985, due to the economy and shortage of priests, St. Cecilia consolidated with St. Mary’s of Gaastra. However, by the early 1950’s records showed that Caspian had about three times the amount of parishioners in Caspian than in Gaastra. Many of the faithful in Gaastra joined with St. Cecilia when St. Mary’s church closed in 1988.
Active ministries included the St. Anne Society, Holy Name Society, men's choir, mixed choir and St Vincent De Paul Society.
With Fr. Sartorelli's retirement, the parishes of St. Cecilia and St. Agnes combined, with Fr. Norman Clisch appointed pastor of both St. Cecilia and St. Agnes in Iron River. His pastorate continued until his retirement in 2011 when Father Gregory Veneklase was appointed administrator and pastor of both.
Martyr, Patroness of Church Music
Feast Day: November 22
Major Shrine: Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, Rome, Italy
Patron of: Church music, great musicians, poets
In the fourth century appeared a Greek religious romance on the Loves of Cecilia and Valerian, written, like those of Chrysanthus and Daria, Julian and Basilissa, in glorification of the virginal life, and with the purpose of taking the place of the sensual romances of Daphnis and Chloe, Chereas and Callirhoe, etc., which were then popular.
The story of S. Cecilia is not without beauty and merit. There was in the city of Rome a virgin named Cecilia, who was given in marriage to a youth named Valerian. She wore sackcloth next to her skin, and fasted, and invoked the saints and angels and virgins, beseeching them to guard her virginity. And she said to her husband, "I will tell you a secret if you will swear not to reveal it to anyone." And when he swore, she added, "There is an angel who watches me, and wards off from me any who would touch me." He said, "Dearest, if this be true, show me the angel." "That can only be if you will believe in one God, and be baptized."
She sent him to Pope S. Urban (223-230), who baptized him; and when he returned, he saw Cecilia praying in her chamber, and an angel by her with flaming wings, holding two crowns of roses and lilies, which he placed on their heads, and then vanished. Shortly after, Tibertius, the brother of Valerian, entered, and wondered at the fragrance and beauty of the flowers at that season of the year.
When he heard the story of how they had obtained these crowns, he also consented to be baptized. After their baptism the two brothers devoted themselves to burying the martyrs slain daily by the prefect of the city, Turcius Almachius. [There was no prefect of that name.] They were arrested and brought before the prefect, and when they refused to sacrifice to the gods were executed with the sword.
In the meantime, S. Cecilia, by preaching had converted four hundred persons, whom Pope Urban forthwith baptized. Then Cecilia was arrested, and condemned to be suffocated in the baths. She was shut in for a night and a day, and the fires were heaped up, and made to glow and roar their utmost, but Cecilia did not even break out into perspiration through the heat. When Almachius heard this he sent an executioner to cut off her head in the bath. The man struck thrice without being able to sever the head from the trunk. He left her bleeding, and she lived three days. Crowds came to her, and collected her blood with napkins and sponges, whilst she preached to them or prayed. At the end of that period she died, and was buried by Pope Urban and his deacons.
St. Cecilia is regarded as the patroness of music [because of the story that she heard heavenly music in her heart when she was married], and is represented in art with an organ or organ-pipes in her hand.
From The Lives of the Saints by the Rev. S. Baring-Gould, M.A., published in 1914 in Edinburgh.
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1974 Father Brackett's altar boy servers